Key West experienced two major hurricanes in 1909 and 1910. Both hit in October and were rated between a category 3 & 4 hurricane. In 1909, more than 400 buildings were destroyed. Many of the buildings were blown off their foundations, collapsed from hurricane force winds or were washed away. Nearly every ship and dock in the city was badly damaged or destroyed. Estimates of overall damage in Key West were set at one million dollars in 1909 currency.
While this house was built for the commanding officer of the Key West Submarine Base, its use by President Harry S. Truman as a site for working vacations earned it fame as "The Little White House." During Truman's 11 trips here from 1946-1953, he negotiated policies ranging from the Marshal Plan and Truman Doctrine, the recognition of Israel, and penning executive orders governing Civil Rights. In subsequent years, the building continued to be used by other presidents for work and leisure.